Psalm 23 5-6 (esv)
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Sola Gratia, or ‘Grace Alone’, is one of the key doctrines of the Protestant church. What is grace alone?
Romans 3:23-26 (esv)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (esv)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
We are saved then by grace alone – through Gods grace towards us in our lives, not through anything we have done, or any good thing that is in us.
Grace is simply this – the unmerited, undeserved favor of God towards us, in our lives. We are all sinners, we have all fallen short of Gods highest standards, and therefore, are worthy of nothing but death and punishment.
Through Jesus Christ we find unmerited grace and favor in our lives, that the punishment that should have been ours because of our sin was was on by Him, that we might be found right before the Father.
Not only found right with God (which you could very well call grace enough!), but also we suddenly find ourselves totally and utterly blessed by God, in so many ways. These last verses in Psalm 23 to me speak of two things – blessing and protection (which could also be said to be a blessing).
As we have already seen in the previous verses, the person who is submitted to God is already under the protection of the Great Shepherd. But what protection! A table is prepared for us – in the presence of our enemies. That is more than protection, that is utter disregard to any power that they have over us or Him. They have no power at all to affect anything, so even in their presence, God is able to bless us. You would think that the psalmist here is overstating the case to bring the point home – but the most amazing thing is that it is not overstated! God is really that powerful.
And what blessing! Firstly we are anointed with oil, as a visible outward sign of Gods blessing upon us. Our cup is also not full – it overflows. We don’t just have enough, we will always have too much than we can hold or deal with.
Finally, the last piece of grace. We are not just protected and blessed for a time. We are not ‘the flavor of the month’, with a short burst of grace and gradual decline to nothing. We are blessed, forever. In eternity with the Father, dwelling in His house.
The more I think on this, the more it just blows my mind. Undeserved, unwarranted favor of God, upon our lives. Forever.
What other response can there be but to praise and worship Him?
Lord God, thank you for your grace in our lives! It is so amazing we cannot comprehend it enough to truly give you thanks. Once again we come before you and submit our lives before you. Once again we call you Lord of our lives, and declare that we shall not want. Thank you that even though we are deserving of nothing but punishment, you have paid the price and allow us to come before you and submit ourselves to you. Guide us in your way that we might be effective members of Your kingdom, to Your praise and glory. In Jesus Name. Amen.
(Photo: Flickr / Mike Chen)